The news that Dave Rennie has extended his contract with the Chiefs Rugby Club as head coach for another two years is great news for Chiefs fans.
It goes without saying that to be selected to play in the Chiefs team, players need to show exceptional rugby talent. However, since Dave Rennie took over as head coach in 2012, there has been a huge emphasis on more than just being a good rugby player.
Having a great work ethic and character and being a ‘good fella’ have become important factors in earning selection into the squad. It is very much a case of ‘it takes-one-to-know-one’.
Those who work with or have met Dave Rennie agree he is a ‘good fella’. The former publican and talented guitar player has a genuine interest in people and a great understanding of the Chiefs region and the communities within it. Those players who have been coached by Rennie in other teams are keen to reunite with the man they regard as a top bloke.
One player who knows him well is Chiefs playmaker Aaron Cruden.
“He’s a man of high value and integrity and I think that’s what you need from a coach. He’s a coach that’s able to get the best out of his players, both on and off the field and it’s great news for us to have him on for another few years.”
Since Dave has taken over, the Chiefs have experienced the most success in its 20 year history. Dave delivered consecutive Investec Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013 and made the play-offs last year, with the results putting him as the most successful Super Rugby coach in the current New Zealand sides.
In addition to seven new Chiefs making the All Blacks and another two earning re-calls, Dave has introduced 39 new players to a Chiefs jersey.
However the father of three and dedicated family man is a humble person and is the first to attribute the Chiefs success to his players, fellow coaching staff, tight management team and the support of the fans, sponsors and families. It is no secret that he prefers to stay in the background when the accolades flow.
He is a straight shooter with a great sense of humour and has completed a comprehensive coaching apprenticeship, which featured plenty of grassroots footy.
A school teacher by trade, Dave coached nearly every sport going during his teaching career. Following his retirement as the midfield back for Wellington in 1991, with 59 caps to his name, Dave coached the seniors and U21s for three years each at his club in Upper Hutt and even managed to coach the junior kids as well, all while owning and running a bar.
He also managed to fit in coaching the Wellington Bs for three years before joining the A side in 1999 as Graham Mourie’s assistant.
Dave had three years as Wellington’s head coach and a season as the assistant at the Hurricanes. He went back to club rugby and coached an U21 side for another three years while continuing to coach for Murray Mexted’s IRANZ organisation in Palmerston North.
Dave took on the head coach role with Manawatu as a short-term contract, which turned into six years. He moved his wife Steph and their children there and helped the union to become respected opponents on the field and took them to the ITM Cup Championship final.
In 2008 he took on an additional role with the New Zealand Under-20 team and went on to win three consecutive junior world championship titles.
In 2012 Dave joined the Chiefs. At the end of his first season with the Chiefs they banked their first Investec Super Rugby title with a young group full of ‘good fellas’ and backed it up with a second title the following year.
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew recently provided an accurate assessment of Rennie when he commented on his recommitment to the Chiefs.
“Dave is a world class coach and the results on the field speak for themselves. He enjoys huge respect from players and fans, and right across the rugby community.”
Some would interpret that to mean he’s a good buggar and that, in addition to skill, is what it takes to be part of the Chiefs.